EV Charge points: Facts, myths and solutions.
As EV’s begin to prevail in the passenger and light van market, the need for charging at home is a key requirement, not just for the owners, but also for the electricity network as a whole. With around 40% of Scottish homes rented, there will be a growing requirement for charging infrastructure for these properties. In Scotland along with the OLEV grant funding for an EVSE, the Energy Saving Trust also offers additional support.
The type of property will define the requirements, but this article will mainly be focussing on homes with dedicated off-street parking, within the footprint of the property.
Q What is an ‘EVSE’ and why are they necessary?
An Electric Vehicle Service Equipment or EVSE or charge point is a dedicated, purpose-built supply socket for charging an electric vehicle. While it is possible for an EV to charge from a normal BS1363 socket, this is not desirable. A typical ‘Mode 2’ charge cable will take 10A continuously, potentially for 40 hours for a car like a Tesla S Long Range. Although technically possible, this is generally recognised as an occasional solution. Should there be any excessive heating, regular use may result in damage to the socket. A dedicated ‘Mode 3’ EVSE is preferred.
Q Are their standards for installing an EVSE?
Yes, the IET 18th Edition Wiring Regulations specifically addresses these, with a Code of Practice for installers.
Q. Will an EVSE overload the property’s supply?
Properly and professionally installed, no. As with adding any load to an electrical system, the impact needs to be accessed. This falls to the installer. EVSE equipment is available in some very advanced forms that can match the car charging current to the available supply in the home. Currently, grant-funded installations need to be ‘smart’. This includes the ability to limit or stop charging when household loads exceed a particular threshold. The maximum current level can also be set on most EVSEs.
Occasionally there may be an issue with the supply capacity within a property. In some cases, this can be managed with the local network operator installing an uprated fuse at the supply cut-out. Alternatively, a lower capacity charge point can be installed.
Typically the best times to charge an EV are overnight when demand on the grid is low. EVA Scotland generally advises drivers to set a timer for charging so that the vehicle charges between about 22:30 and 08:00, helping support the National Grid.
Q I have Photovoltaic (PV) Generation on my property. Will this be affected by an EVSE?
An EV charging on a house with PV will have no impact on the generation itself. Indeed this may be attractive to tenants as it will offer them further reduced driving costs when charging from the sun. Systems that match charging to the output of the PV system take this even further. There may be an impact on the export tariff if you have a smart meter as well as a generation meter. Generation Feed-in Tariffs are unaffected.
Q. Are there any specific requirements for Safety?
The Regulations require that an EVSE be directly wired from a dedicated way on the property’s electrical distribution board, typically a 16A or 32A MCB or RCBO, over a suitably rated cable to the position for charging the car. The Code of Practice outlines a few areas where safety considerations must apply, but the most critical one is that of the earthing system. Most properties in the UK have what the utility companies refer to as Protective Multiple Earth, with the equipotential bonding within the property a mandatory requirement on such a system. The EVSE requires some specific criteria to be met to ensure safety in the event of certain network faults. Simply, the EVSE must have its own dedicated earth rod and NOT be connected to the main system earth, or have a detection system that can identify and isolate itself from the fault. The zappi devices pictured above were among the first to incorporate this type of protection.
Q Can any electrician install an EVSE?
Any qualified electrician can install an EVSE. We suggest that someone with expertise and experience of the requirements is used for private installations.
Installation completed under the OLEV scheme requires an installation certificate from a qualified and registered electrician. This sets the benchmark standard for adding an EVSE to any property.
Q. What can I do if a tenant requests to install an EVSE at my property?
Where a tenant wished to have a charge point installed, EVA Scotland recommends that the installation be completed and certified by a registered electrician and the certificate provided to the landlord. At the time of writing, most installations are being completed under the grant funding schemes mentioned.
Q. My insurance doesn’t allow for tenant improvements.
Where the landlord's insurance company may not cover a tenant installed improvement to the permanent wiring of the property, we would recommend that the landlord adopt the entirety of the installation on completion, whether grant-funded of not, but with a contractual clause that the EVSE itself shall revert to the tenant on termination of the let, with the cable made safe and housed in a suitable terminal box to support any future EV driving tenant. Please confirm with your insurance company that this is acceptable.
Q. What needs to be done when a tenant leaves?
If the tenant wishes to take the EVSE with them, EVA Scotland recommends that a competent electrician remove the EVSE itself and terminate the supply cable in a suitable IP rated box. The MCB or RCBO feeding the cable should be left off when no EVSE is in place.
Q. My new tenant wishes to have an EVSE installed on the wiring from the previous installation. What is required?
The process for installation is more straightforward here. The ‘new’ EVSE cannot draw more power than the installation was originally capable of and the earthing system for the new charge point may require additional works where a device with loss of neutral sensing was previously installed. If additional earthing is required, then additional certification may be needed. EVA Scotland recommends that a qualified electrician completes the work.
Q What are the benefits to the Landlord of having an EVSE on a property?
The addition of a charge point to any property is a marketing plus, with sales of EVs currently showing an exponential rise. As more businesses and fleets move toward electrification, charging at home will become normal for many. With some developers already installing or preparating for an EVSE in new build properties, the addition will be attractive to the growing number of EV owners.
Q My property is in a flatted development with dedicated parking. What can be done?
This is a more challenging situation, which will require the cooperation of other owners and possibly the factor. Where a supply can be easily laid directly from a property to a space, it is little different to a property with a driveway. For communal or remote parking, companies such as eVolt offer solutions that can be incorporated in the car park, with installations that can be managed as part of a network, allowing billing for electricity used on a shared supply. EVA Scotland recommends that tariffs on such a system be set to encourage use, charging only a small premium above the typical cost of household power. As a minimum the installation should be cost-neutral, with energy, operation and maintenance costs met.
Q There is a limited supply to the car park area, how can more drivers be supported?
Load managed systems can support a large number of EVSEs on a shared supply. Such systems can be managed locally or remotely, but we at least one system has seen 60 32 Amp EVSEs supplied via a 200 Amp supply with no issues.
Q There is no supply to the car park, a new supply is required from the network. What will that cost?
You will need to ask your local Distribution Network Operator, or engage a company like eVolt to quote for installation.
Q Only my property in the development has someone looking for an EVSE. Can the factor refuse installation in a shared area?
Currently, yes, although there is progress to ensure EVSE installation cannot be prevented. We would encourage passive preparation for additional EVSEs in any facility to save on the cost of future installations. We offer a guide along with OREF on the installation of infrastructure.
Q Can anyone use my EVSE in a flatted development?
That’s entirely up to you. Most network operators can let you limit who can use your EVSEs and when. There is also scope to apply tariffs to ensure best use of the infrastructure is made, see our Tariff Guide. We would encourage access for visitors, both to support EV drivers in general, but also to broaden the revenue stream for operators.
Q The development has a large parking area, is it suitable for public charging?
That depends on location and nearby need. One course of action may be to offer the location to a third party for Rapid Charging, with a proviso that they provide a metered supply for the tenant's charge points. This has the potential to generate some ground rent revenue from the Rapid unit while reducing the cost of installing EVSEs for tenants.
Q My property has no parking. How can I support a tenant with an EVProperties with no parking?
This is an area where the tenant will have to liaise with the Local Authority for the provision of on-street charging. At the time of writing, funding is available for local authorities to establish such facilities. Future growth in this area included companies like Connected Kerb, who have charge points that also support the 5G network rollout in urban and suburban areas.
Electric bicycle charging.
Where a property has dedicated secure bicycle storage, please consider the installation of charging lockers for owners of e-bikes.